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Spring: Time for the Bugs

Dr. Peter H. Eeg, BSc, DVM, CVLF, FALSMS

The springtime has sprung and nature is revived for yet another long growing season. This also means that all the bugs that fly, crawl, burrow, and live inside are gearing up to make their case for reproducing and repopulating their species. Unfortunately, this also means that they will be trying to use your pets as a food source or home for their children.

You can be assured that as the grass grows quickly in the spring, the bugs use it to get to our pets. Internal parasites come out of their

dormant egg stage and the new larvae crawl up the grass blades to the tips looking to be picked up or eaten by a passing pet. Hookworms and whipworms do not need to be eaten; they can penetrate the foot pads or tongue to gain entrance into your pets’ bodies. Roundworm parasite eggs can live for up to ten years in the soil. Sixteen percent of commercial potting soil has roundworm eggs present. On muddy days when your pets come in nice and slimy with mud, they groom themselves, ingesting any eggs that might be catching a ride in the mud. The lifecycles from egg to adult can get side-tracked as they migrate around your pets’ bodies. Young pets can maintain an infection for up to one year. Adult pets can get reinfected repeatedly throughout their lives.

Tick babies (six-legged nymphs) have just finished their first meal from their host mice (mice are the reservoir for Lyme disease) and have dropped off to grow into a young adult (eight-legged larvae). This stage wants to find a second host and feed again. Once this has been completed, they molt into a mature adult and look for their reproduction host (yourself or your pet). In our area of the country, most ticks carry at least two types of diseases that can be transmitted from their bites.

The unwelcome mosquito is also ready for a busy growing season. They love to lay their eggs in standing water. Even puddle as small as a spoonful can be a complete habitat for growing mosquito larvae. There are now mosquitoes that can survive and be active to temperatures as low as 45 degrees F. As heartworm advances in all regions of the U.S., Maryland is now considered a 12-month exposure area for your pet. Any pet that

travels with their humans to the south has almost a 100% chance of being infected by heartworm-carrying mosquitos if they are not on a preventative,

What to do, what to do:

Simple steps to keep your pets and yourself safe this growing season:

Have your pets’ feces examined and tested for parasites at least once a year. If your pet has ever been tested positive for a parasite, then likely their eggs are in your environment so biannual testing is a good idea. No pet can be too old to get re-infected.

  • Make surethat your heartworm prevention and flea/tick prevention are upto date and active. New multi-month protection is now easily and cost-effectively available. Talk to your veterinarian about the products that have the greatest and fastest effect.


    • Give all medications to prevent and protect against parasites ON TIME. Missing a dose by as little as 24 hours can put you and your pet at undue risk.
  • 4, Be aware that over-the-counter compounds that do not come from a medical clinic may be counterfeit and are not warranted by the

    pharmaceutical company that produced it. If your product comes from an online site and is not in the original container, SEND IT

    BACK FOR A REFUND.

    • Parasites like roundworms and giardia can be transmitted from animal to people, so be sure to wash your hands after you have been working or playing out in the yard. Use protective footwear and wear gardening gloves. ALWAYS WASH YOUR PRODUCE. Never eat anything directly off the plant.


      • If anyone other than your veterinarian gives medical advice to you about your pet, thank them and call your veterinarian, This includes Dr. Google.

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